Thursday, September 3, 2015

USNA Hosts Memorial Service for First Marine Corps African American Aviator

The Naval Academy hosted a memorial service in the Naval Academy chapel today for the Marine Corps’ first African American aviator Lt. Gen. Frank Petersen. 

Petersen served on the Naval Academy Board of Visitors since 2010.


Petersen enlisted in the U.S. Navy  in 1950 and entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in 1951. After completing flight training, he was commissioned into the Marine Corps in 1952.

He served two tours in Korea and Vietnam, flying more than 350 combat missions. He received the Purple Heart after he was shot down over the demilitarized zone in Vietnam.


He earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree from George Washington University. In 1979, he became the first African American brigadier general in the Marines. He retired in 1988 after 38 years of service.



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